Gerrard shines in stellar season for the Adelaide Thunderbirds
She was joined in the spotlight by captain and fellow Australian player Natalie von Bertouch, who was named Advertiser Player of the Year.
Rising talent Bianca Reddy, who worked her way into the starting lineup of the team, was voted Player’s Player.
Still rankling over their two-goal loss to Waikato/BOP Magic in the preliminary, the presentation evening was a chance for the team to finally let their hair down.
Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands was full of praise for every player in the side, not just the evening’s award winners.
Woodlands says all teams in the ANZ Championship went in a bit blind, knowing only the standard would be significantly higher than previous domestic national competitions.
She says that is why recruiting was critical for all teams, not just Adelaide.
“Mo’onia delivered all we expected of her – and more,” Woodlands says.
“She was a genuine force on the court and we felt a little unlucky not to be named player of the competition,” she says.
“And pairing her with Geva Mentor, our other recruit, played a major role in us having the best defence in the competition – they both gave everything they had.
“Natalie, of course, is a class act and would star in any team in the world while Bianca was a revelation and her success is a tribute to her enthusiasm, the speed with which she grasped all we wanted to do and her commitment both on and off the court.”
But Woodlands says her recruits, and other award winners, would all acknowledge how much they owed to the team performance, and not just on the court.
She says although all squad players got good court time this year, there was just as much work done off the court that contributed to the team’s success.
“These girls have put everything aside since pre-season began and have been rewarded with the team finishing third in the competition,” Woodlands adds.
“Of course we would all like to have gone further, and even in the end it came down to just a goal here and a goal there, and we have a great foundation for a bigger and better year in 2009,” she says.
“Our support team, assistant coaches, fitness specialists, nutrition and management, all played a pivotal role and we have all learnt a lot which will be a big help in the future."